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To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Camp 4 Marriage

It turns out not all Camp 4 Marriages end in divorce.

Phil, my spouse for the day
What's a camp 4 marriage you ask?  It's a term coined from that crucible of climbing - Yosemite valley's Camp 4 - where two individuals would meet for the first time (often as the result of hand-scrawled postings on the message board) sometimes hours before teaming up to tackle an ascent of El Capitan, one of the most famous climbing features in the world.  Often times the only thing these folks would have in common was the desire to scale the cliff - levels of proficiency, age, fitness, attitude, demeanor - this sort of stuff was rarely considered.  Trouble is, when something is difficult almost all of this stuff is crucial to success.

I've had two previous camp 4 marriages - the only two times i've ever climbed El Capitan.  I was successful on both climbs, but have never spoken to either 'spouse' again.  I won't go into details.  Both experiences were fresh in my mind this friday at 10 pm however, as i started my 5 hour drive towards Albert Lea, MN, to partake in the Minnesota Orienteering Club's 8 hour Adventure-O.  I'd meet my race partner, Phil (i didn't even know his last name), whom i'd been hooked up with via email by the race directors and spoken with briefly on the phone, a mere hour before the race began.

I stopped just south of the cities and slept for four hours in my car - a hot humid sleep where i drifted in and out of consciousness as mosquitos (how do they get in the car anyway?) nibbled on my forearms. At first light i fueled up, got some coffee, and finished the drive to the Edgewater resort, which served as the start line.

I got a great first impression of phil.  He was easy going, helpful as i changed a front bike tire that had gone flat during my drive, and seemed fit.  I'd assumed (i don't know why?!) that i'd be slightly fitter than him, but by the looks of it we might be pretty evenly matched (hard to judge someone by appearances in AR - there are guys that look tough as nails that never finish, and then folks that you'd never identify as a great athlete that end up on the podium...).  I'd tried to limit my expectations - all i was looking for was a good training day - a longer effort to begin mentally preparing for idaho.

Phil right after the paddle rogaine, after we'd taken the lead.
Long story short, my expectations were exceeded.  Although the race was not my strong suit (more race than adventure and very fast), we ended up heading leaving the first rogaine section with team GearJunkie/Yogaslackers (the same team i'll be racing on at idaho interestingly enough).  I quickly realized that phil was NOT going to be slower than me on the bike and tucked in behind him as we pedaled to a second (and longer) foot rogaine.  Phil's navigation was spot on and we finished this section within minutes of GJ/YS for another (shorter) bike to a third paddle rogaine where we had the option of 'creative portaging'.  we entered the water 5 minutes behind GJ/YS and lost more time searching for the first CP and messing with our seats.  Phil made a bold call and we decided to carry the boats overland for a mile, cutting off about half a mile of paddling but figuring the speeds of each were about the same.  By the end of the paddle rogaine we had slightly edged out GJ/YS and pulled into the TA about 30 seconds in front of them.

GJ/YS quickly caught us as we rode through the city and had multiple stops at traffic lights, and then pulled out ahead slightly at a water stop as they'd gotten their bottles filled first (there was only one fill station).  We kept them in sight, but just barely. I was starting to feel the fatigue of pushing hard for three hours, and had likely dug myself into a hole from not eating and drinking adequately during the first few fast hours (not to mention i was hot and sunburned from forgetting to apply sunscreen!).  I tried to dig myself out - forcing down some food - and it helped eventually, but not before we lost about 10 minutes on the leaders by the time we got to the last rogaine section.  While i thought i'd be better on foot, i didn't help much.  While i was fine running (jogging) on the trails, the bushwhacking or waist to chest high grassland that we were so often wading through was very tough.  My right hamstring would cramp whenever i lifted my right heel too far, but there was nothing i could do.

The O-course seemed to take forever.  Phil's nav continued to be spot on, but he'd made the mistake of folding the map in such a way that one of the checkpoints couldn't be seen.  when we discovered this error we realized we'd have to backtrack at the end to get it.  Damn.  We eventually ran into GJ/YS again and travelled with them for the last 4 or 5 CP's - Phil seemed eager to try and break away from them but i wouldn't have been able to manage much of a speed increase.  When we arrived back at the TA we headed out to get the one we'd missed, and ended up leaving on the final bike about 15 minutes behind GJ.

The final bike was short but i was spent.  I sat on phils wheel trying to keep up and managing to (for the most part) except for on a few hills.  We were stoked at the finish - considering we'd only met that morning and had been able to push such a good team for much of the race.  Unfortunately, we also discovered that we'd missed one of the CP's in the final rogaine - one that had simply blended into the map and would have required an additional 100 meters of walking through a field from the route we took.  The next team arrive at the finish for over 30 minutes, so it was a bummer to have made that mistake.  But all in all it didn't change much - I'd had a great race with phil, been pushed hard and learned a great deal about what i need to work on (biking!  nutrition!).  That and i hopefully have earned a potential race partner for the future.

Thanks Phil!


  1. Great race, Andy. Thanks for pushing us big time all day!

  2. That sounds like an awesome day Andy. If you want to work of the bike come on out to Idaho. I'll show you around.